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  • India in Afghanistan: Engagement without Strategy

    India needs to engage countries in the region to ensure that the transition process in Afghanistan does not threaten regional stability.

    January 28, 2011

    India's Options within the Afghan Maze

    Although General David Petraeus emphatically stated that the United States of America is not in Afghanistan to lose the war, the fact remains that the decade-long war on terror against the Taliban and shadow boxing the al Qaida has lost its aim and purpose, reaching levels of absurdity at a cost of over a trillion dollars and yet the US will not win the war! Every effort of General Petraeus to win will only escalate the conflict and that is not in the best interests of Afghanistan and the US.

    January 2011

    In the Wake of the US Withdrawal

    As the United States seeks to draw down its security forces in Afghanistan, India faces a serious policy conundrum. It has made, as Vishal Chandra argues, significant developmental and infrastructural investments in the country. If the US military withdrawal is significant, even if not precipitate, it may leave the field open to a reconstitution of the Taliban within the country. Such an outcome will dramatically enhance Pakistani influence in the country and thereby place India's very substantial commitments to date at risk.

    January 2011

    India in the Afghan Maze: Search for Options

    The Afghan war has a long way to go. The situation has come to a point where with every passing month one wonders where the war is headed. There can be no doubt that it will be long before Afghanistan will be at peace with itself. At this moment, there does not seem to be any solution to the Afghan crisis. The Taliban and their allies, both Afghan and foreign, have notably succeeded in transforming the war to their advantage.

    January 2011

    President Medvedev’s Visit to India: Fresh Directions for Indo-Russian Partnership in the 21st Century

    India and Russia should look at a hi-tech partnership for the 21st century in new areas of the civilian economy.

    December 20, 2010

    The New Great Instability: Afghanistan after the American Exit

    The present paper discusses about the new great instability in Afghanistan which had emerged after 2001. It builds four scenarios by looking into the impending American withdrawal from Afghanistan and states that for President Obama, a stable and democratic government is most desirable but it would prefer to leave it after building a coalition government with local actors as the US is more worried about a stable government in Afghanistan, not necessarily a democratic one.

    October 2010

    Obama’s AfPak Review should emphasise on Peace Talks with the Taliban

    The US needs to take direct charge of the peace talks prong of strategy to meet the mid-2011 deadline of beginning its troops withdrawal as well as to enable NATO departure by 2014.

    November 23, 2010

    Ganesh asked: What would be the status of India in restructuring Afghanistan after departure of NATO?

    Vishal Chandra replies: The US and NATO are likely to remain engaged in Afghanistan for years to come. I do not foresee complete withdrawal of American forces anytime soon. Even if the Obama Administration sticks to the July 2011 time frame, the withdrawal of American troops will still be a long drawn affair. Similarly, most of the European countries may pull out bulk of their troops in the next 2-3 years, but that would be no affirmation of West ‘departing’ from the region. They are likely to maintain minimal number of troops inside Afghanistan in support of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the Afghan government. The pace of withdrawal will also depend on the ground situation in Afghanistan; threat perceptions among the Western countries; and the preparedness of the ANSF. Transfer of security responsibilities to the ANSF itself will take at least 4-5 years or even more. Both the US and NATO will have to fund and provide mentors and trainers for the ANSF for years to come.

    As for the Indian presence, much will depend on the security situation in Afghanistan, the strength of the Afghan government, and how Washington and Islamabad reconcile to each other’s interests. India is likely to continue with its reconstruction assistance to the Afghan people and government to the extent possible. As a neighbouring country, India is expected to take a long-term view of the Afghan situation. The current policy may not be sustainable if the West fails to manage and stabilize the Afghan situation. India response will thus depend on the situation as it evolves on either sides of the Durand Line. In all circumstances, Indian response and policy towards Afghanistan must factor in the views and perceptions of various sections of the Afghan people. India has to be patient and cautious in its response. Any misadventure will prove counter-productive and further work to the advantage of forces inimical to the Indian interests.

    A Passage Through India?

    Given the fragility of ISAF’s southern lines of communication passing through Pakistan, India could consider offering a passage through its territory as a meaningful alternative.

    October 21, 2010

    26/11 Redux in Europe: Strategic Imperatives

    The current terrorist threat has reemphasised the importance of Europe, considered to be increasingly irrelevant in global security and strategic calculus.

    October 21, 2010